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S made a comment that my last post could be construed as a little bitter. He had a point, but I think I should be excused for being bitter after spending an entire weekend freezing cold and bored. And having received a definite confirmation from the Blessed Board of Surgeons that I missed out on a second round offer I was in a fairly miserable state of mind.

But yesterday dawned bright and relatively sunny, and after an hour of clumsily contorting myself into faux-yoga poses at the Body Balance gym class next door I went on a shopping expedition.

Maybe it was all that mystical energy zinging through my limbs after the gym, or the fact I was wearing my favourite hoody, whose fabric reminds me of 1970’s kitchen curtains, but I found myself in a nearby suburban shopping area, heading into a whole foods shop to buy organic unbleached whole wheat flour, rye flour, live natural yoghurt. I’ve only been to that particular set of shops before for the cheap and excellent vietnamese, and usually at night, so I was surprised to find that there were lots of alternative, hippy-fied shops around the area. Possibly they were calling to me on some sort of subliminal wavelength. Never fear, I did have to stop by at Big W afterwards to obtain an Easiyo yoghurt maker, so I think most of the wholesomeness was diluted out.

I dare say I’m not unusual in loving sourdough bread and yoghurt (not necessarily together), and having been inspired by several random internet pages, decided I should attempt to make both at home.

Yoghurt (see this, and this)

Perhaps not yet a success at this point. I intended to try making proper home-made yoghurt using milk and some live yoghurt as a starter, instead of the sachets that the Easiyo maker is meant for. In a moment of whimsy I bought some goats milk (I love goats), thinking it would be an interesting experiment. Unfortunately I put the milk into a saucepan on high to scald it for a brief period, and then forgot about it entirely, until it declared it’s neglect by boiling over and burning onto the element. NB: burnt goats milk does not smell nice. So I resorted to standard “lite” milk – 1L brought to just before boiling, then cooled. Combined with 2 tablespoons of a lovely Meredith Dairy yoghurt (I was fairly generous with the tablespoons), and left to yoghurtify in the Easiyo overnight.

Sadly, after 12 hours of incubation the result is still pretty runny. Although it does have  a nice yoghurty smell. Tasted tart, but still nice and yoghurty. I tried straining it to see I could collect enough solids to make a serve but only ended up with about 30mls of semi-solid stuff. I may need to experiment with another starter yoghurt, and maybe use UHT milk which doesn’t need to be scalded in such an imprecise and cleaning-intense well (apparently the scalding denatures the proteins in a way which makes them more conducive to being changed to yoghurt by the culture. Science and food in Synergy!). Or maybe I’ll just give in an try the Easiyo sachet.

Sourdough

The principle being that sourdough utilises a leaven from wild yeasts, rather than using cultivated bakers yeast to get the dough to rise. There seems to be some debate about whether the yeast comes from the air, or whether it’s in the flour itself. Some recipes call for a grape or a sultana which also have yeast growing on their skins.

Again, much surfing of the interwebs brought me to this page, which had a nice little spiel for beginners developing their own starter, and link to this reference for troubleshooting starters gone awry. Other pages seemed to have similar ideas, with lots of little variables in terms of the ratios of different flours and water, whether to use a grape or sultana, to add sugar or not, and so on, but this one sounded the simplest.

So today, as per the instructions, I have combined 50g Water (bottled), 35g unbleached organic flour and 15g organic rye flour in a lovely glass jar. The rationale for using unbleached, organic flour is that the processing, bleaching, herbicides and pesticides are likely to kill the lovely little yeasts that are going to ferment the starter and lead me to glorious, light, springy, golden loaves of delicious bread. This is going to be a fairly drawn out process over the next week or two, to get it to the stage where I can use it to bake from. This means I’m really going to have to crack down on my compulsive checking behaviours.

Water 50g: Whole wheat flour 35g: Rye flour 15g

If success ensues with either endeavour I’ll be sure to blag about it.

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